Ahead of Memorial Day remembrances, Department of Veterans Affairs officials have added 300,000 new names to their online registry of deceased veterans and service members interred at national cemeteries across the country.
The four-year-old Veterans Legacy Memorial project is designed to allow the American public to learn about individuals who served in the military even when they can’t physically visit their final resting sites. It also gives family and friends another way to carry on their memory, through online stories and tributes.
The addition of the new names — from 27 cemeteries managed by the Defense Department, separate from the VA cemetery system — brings the total number featured in the project to nearly five million. The online registry includes the basic military service records of the deceased, the location of their final resting place and directions on how to visit. Family members can also submit photos, award citations and other historic documents to be included in the listings.
The new group includes tens of thousands of individuals interred at Arlington National Cemetery, one of the most well-known military memorial sites in the nation. Although many veterans are buried there, the site is managed by Army officials, not the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“The Veterans Legacy Memorial gives all of us a way to remember veterans and thank them for their service and contributions to our nation, even when we can’t visit their gravesite,” Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Matt Quinn said in a statement. “Expanding [the project] to include veterans and service members in [Defense Department] cemeteries is just the next step in achieving our goal of giving every veteran a digital memorial space.”
Department officials will host Memorial Day ceremonies at more than 130 national cemeteries this weekend to commemorate the holiday. VA Secretary Denis McDonough is expected to preside over a wreath-laying ceremony at the BG William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in New Jersey on May 27.
A full listing of all the events is available at the department’s web site. All national cemeteries run by the department will be open throughout Memorial Day weekend from dawn to dusk, to allow visitors to access the sites.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.